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Posts with tag online-gaming-history

WoW Archivist: A rolled-back history of realms

Hundreds of players in Stormwind
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

If your low-population realm hasn't been linked up to another one yet, it soon will. This is a drastic step for WoW, but one that should solve the long-bemoaned low-population problem on many realms.

When WoW first launched, Blizzard had the exact opposite problem on their hands: realms had far, far too many players. Let's look back to 2004 to the earliest months of the game and remember just what players had to endure -- and what Blizzard had to do to fix it.

Uncharted realms

The servers that run the game's realms have always been shrouded in mystery. Technical details have never been shared. In a 2005 interview, producer Shane Dabiri deflected questions about the realms hardware: "Well, I really can't get into how we structure or build our infrastructure," he said. "Much of the information is proprietary and complex."

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WoW Archivist: Two weeks as a noob in 2004

A tauren in Mulgore
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

When I took on the WoW Archivist mantle last year, I wanted to tell some personal stories as well as provide in-depth looks into the game's past. My first column talked about an early but extraordinary world PvP experience. Today I'd like to tell you about my first weeks of WoW in 2004, in a very different Azeroth than our modern version, with a very different incarnation of the hunter class.

A hunter will rise

In December 2004, a hunter stepped forward in Red Cloud Mesa. He was new to the ways of Azeroth, but eager to learn. What followed would be painful. But when the narrator shut up and the hunter proudly accepted his first quest from the Navajo minotaur guy with giant punctuation over his head, this new hunter set forth. He had nothing but a bow and a hope that his trials would forge him into a hero.

He would become a hero, many months and scars later. His first two weeks, however, were marked with terror, failure, and shame in roughly equal parts.

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WoW Archivist: WoW's first legendary quest line

Thunderfury falls from the sky
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Not every amazing weapon is legendary. WoW has seen plenty of great weapons come and go without a single orange letter in their tooltip. But let's face it: legendaries are the most interesting and coveted items in the game.

In patch 5.4, many players who have never before been able to equip a legendary item will have their first opportunity, thanks to Wrathion's schemes. The quest line for our legendary cloaks has been the longest and most elaborate legendary quest line to date, spanning over multiple tiers of raiding.

But how did it all begin? What was WoW's first legendary quest line? Let's take a look back to remember the legend of Thunderfury.

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WoW Archivist: When Blizzard "hated" the Horde

A night elf visits the Barrens
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Which faction does Blizzard love more?

For several years it's been all the rage to claim that Blizzard loves the Horde and hates the Alliance. Players trot out the "green Jesus" theory. They show how the past two expansions have focused far more on Horde characters and storylines than on Alliance intrigues.

It's true that Blizzard placed Thrall and now Garrosh and Vol'jin in the spotlight over the past few years. Players also look at the shiny new Orgrimmar that the Horde got when the old one burned down, and how Stormwind also took a beating and still hasn't recovered.

You can make the case that Blizzard has somewhat favored the Horde in WoW's recent history. But this is so very, very strange to vanilla players like me. Back then, players were convinced of the exact opposite. Players were so convinced, in fact, that some actually wanted a CM to die. In vanilla, Blizzard "loved" the Alliance and "hated" the Horde.

Don't believe me?

This quote is from a 2005 editorial called "Why the Horde is worse, and how Blizzard could fix it":

In the end, I am just a jealous Horde player... It is up to Blizzard to fix this game; I have done all that I can. Either World of Warcraft can be remembered as a great MMORPG, or it can go down as a horribly imbalanced one, like many before it. That's for Blizzard to decide.

Let's take a trip back to 2005. On a bus, perhaps. A bus made out of elemental electrical energy.

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WoW Archivist: An ultrasafe history of engineering

Force Reactive Disk
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

If you're an engineer, you're accustomed to the chance of failure. The state of the profession throughout WoW's ten years is a bit like a goblin device. Sometimes engineering has succeeded incredibly well. The shiniest of rewards showered down on the profession from Blizzard's workshop like Thorium Grenades of Joy. During other eras, the profession has backfired, blasting shrapnel in players' faces like so many Explosive Sheep.

No one would argue that engineering is in a pretty good place right now, especially considering the newly revealed Sky Golem. It's one of the sickest mounts in the game, it transforms, it lets you harvest herbs without dismounting -- and it's only craftable by engineers.

In the family of primary professions, engineering has always been the weird uncle. No other profession makes such a diverse and bizarre array of products. Engineers can make ranged weapons, a shield, armor of all four kinds, consumables, pets, mounts, trinkets, utility items, "enchantments," "gems," "keys," feasts (yep), fishing lures, portable crafting stations, and specialized bags. It's also the only remaining profession that is still divided into exclusive specializations: goblin and gnomish engineering.

Let's look back at the early days of the profession and how it has evolved through the last four expansions.

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WoW Archivist: WoW's 20 greatest non-legendary weapons, part 2

Arcanite Ripper rockout
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Based on your comments from part 1, I feel the need to explain my criteria so that people can debate these choices with the right frame of mind. This list isn't just for a weapon that had good stats, or a great model, or even one that is a big part of the lore. Those are all bonuses here, but they are just that -- bonuses.

This list is about weapons that straight-up delighted us because they did something new or unique, because they were memorable in some grand way that other weapons haven't been. Gorehowl and Ashkandi, as beloved as they are, as gorgeously modeled as they are, just weren't interesting enough as items to make the list. They deserve honorable mentions, though.

A lot of amazing weapons have been left out, including some of my personal favorites, but hey, WoW just has too much greatness for any mere top 20 list to contain. Let's proceed to the top 10!

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WoW Archivist: WoW's 20 greatest non-legendary weapons

WoW Archivist WoW's 20 greatest nonlegendary weapons FRIDAY
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Wrathion has kept us quite busy since the Horde and Alliance landed on Pandaria's shores. Many players assumed that all this work wouldn't lead to mere metagems alone, but a legendary weapon as well at the end of our service. Given that all (most*) prior legendary items were weapons, the assumption was reasonable. As it turns out, Wrathion will reward us with orange-grade cloaks rather than stabby bits of metal. Some players have been disappointed by this revelation, and let's face it: legendary weapons are absolutely the most cherished and coveted items in the game.

However, legendary weapons don't have the market cornered on awesome. The game includes thousands of non-legendary weapons and some of them have earned the love of players despite the color of their font.

Let's look at what I think are the top 20 non-legendary weapons from WoW's long history.

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WoW Archivist: Paths not taken

Path of the Titans at Blizzcon
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Recently, Blizzard addressed rumors that their ultra-secret next MMO, codenamed Titan, had been "reset." Developers were indeed reassigned to other projects as the slimmed-down team made "some large design and technology changes to the game." Since we don't know anything about Titan for sure, despite some compelling leaks, we'll never know what features the game would have had as part of its original design.

The WoW team, on the other hand, has backed away from many different announced features and content additions that didn't work out. This week's WoW Archivist will look at some of the more interesting and infamous canceled or delayed features.

Homeless

Believe it or not, player housing was briefly tested in alpha. Model viewers showed files going back to alpha in a folder called "playerhousing" (as shown below). Only human houses were ever designed. Blizzard also added a portal in Stormwind as an entrance to an instanced player housing area. An alpha blue poster named Katricia wrote, "Our current idea (which could change) is to extend the cities to have player housing neighborhoods. For example, in the canal area of Stormwind players can see a blue instance portal behind a large portcullis; this is the entrance to the player housing neighborhood in Stormwind."

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WoW Archivist: Patch 2.3 -- Azeroth iterated

Patch 2.3: The Gods of Zul'Aman
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Blizzard likes to talk about their "iterative" process, meaning they make many small improvements over time to produce the best possible result. In the case of the lackluster patch 2.2, players were disappointed that more was not done. With the game's subscriptions still skyrocketing, Blizzard felt pressure to deliver a major dose of new content and improvements.

In November 2007, Blizzard answered the bell and unleashed an iteration that reshaped the game from top to bottom. Players of every level experienced sweeping changes to their play experience -- many of which are so integral now that it's hard to believe we played without them for so long. If you ask players about patch 2.3, they'll call it the "ZA patch." Zul'Aman was a great raid, but 2.3 offered so much more than that.

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WoW Archivist: Launch classes' 9 biggest aggravations, part 2

PallyPower
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Vanilla WoW is properly considered the golden age of this beloved MMO. The evolutionary ideas behind the game were exciting, the art style was fresh, and the world was full of mysteries. Some yearn for a return to that time. But many forget that classes at launch suffered from some truly aggravating designs. Last time on Archivist, we looked at priest racials, hunter mana, warlock shard farming, and shaman weapon skill resets. This week, we review the most aggravating aspects of warriors, mages, druids, rogues, and paladins.

Warriors: The leather conundrum

Let's be fair: warriors, for the most part, had it pretty good in vanilla. Back then, they were the only class that could viably tank and their DPS was better than most hybrids. Rage had its share of problems early on, it's true, but the mechanic worked -- warriors just needed more of it. Stance dancing was annoying to some but the mark of a pro to others. Warriors also had a crippling bug at launch that would register all enemy dodges and parries as misses, preventing skills like Overpower from ever proc'ing. The bug made early leveling painful, but it was solved a few months after launch.

The biggest aggravation for warriors throughout vanilla -- and beyond -- was leather.

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WoW Archivist: Launch classes' 9 biggest aggravations

WoW Archivist Launch classes' 8 biggest aggravations FRIDAY
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The launch of WoW was a magical time -- everyone who played the game back then would agree. The concept of questing rather than grinding was fresh and exciting. The world felt immense, full of secrets and adventures.

Classes, on the other hand, were very raw compared to today. While many players yearn to play on vanilla-only servers, I doubt that most of those players would prefer their class to return to its vanilla version. Though some were better than others, every class had its problems. In this column, I'd like to highlight the biggest aggravation, as I see it, with each of the original eight classes -- and how Blizzard has since fixed every one of those issues.

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WoW Archivist: Emo Garrosh and the Hero of the Mag'har

Thrall meets his grandmother
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Mists of Pandaria has many great story lines: the emergence of the Sha, the Mantid war, the history of the Mogu, the Thunder King and the Zandarlari, etc. The overarching story of this expansion has been the ongoing aggression between the Alliance and the Horde, and the central figure of that conflict is Garrosh.

Patch 5.3 will bring us the beginning of the Horde's revolt against its current warchief, and presumably we will depose him with extreme prejudice in 5.4.

Garrosh's story did not begin in Mists, however, or even in Wrath of the Lich King when he led the Horde's assault on Northrend. Way back in The Burning Crusade, an outstanding quest line called Hero of the Mag'har introduced us to a very different Garrosh: a troubled young orc, helpless, hopeless, wishing for death.

If you've only ever played as Alliance, you never got to experience this chain of quests and its many great moments. For Horde players, it's well worth revisiting.

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WoW Archivist: Players who went too far

Banned notice
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

With a community of millions around the world, Blizzard has no easy job trying to keep botters, gold sellers, cheaters, and other hooligans in check. Blizzard has enacted many rounds of mass bannings over bots and hacks. As Archivist noted last summer, several guilds have been banned or suspended for abusing exploits in raids. Among the countless players and guilds who have earned Blizzard's ire over the years, a few stand out as worthy of revisiting. Here are their stories.

Still just roleplaying?

In an online environment owned and operated by a company, "freedom of speech" does not extend quite as far as it otherwise might. That, at least, is what members of Abhorrent Taboo found out in the fall of 2007. The Horde-side Ravenholdt roleplaying guild boldly proclaimed their identity as an "extreme erotic RP guild."

The guild's welcome message laid out their philosophy:

Role-playing is legal. Even if you are role-playing something that would be considered deplorable and highly illegal IRL, it's still just role-playing and isn't subject to any form of disciplinary action. Negative publicity is still publicity. Make a Digg or website about how sick we are. Report us to PervertedJustice. All it does is bring in more members. In fact, the Digg the guy on Ravenholdt made about us was so effective, several people signed up for WoW just to be in our guild. The bottom line is: We're allowed to do what we do on any server we please and no one can do anything about it.

As it turned out, that last sentence was not 100% accurate.

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WoW Archivist: Blizzard's April Fool's jokes are more real than you think

The EPEEN system
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

It all began in 2003, when Blizzard announced pandaren as a playable race -- for Warcraft III. This never happened, of course. The announcement was an April Fool's joke. But you know that someone at Blizzard back then really wanted to play as a panda. Nine years later, with the Mists of Pandaria expansion, we can all be pandaren now.

When Mists was first revealed, the outcry from some in the community was fierce. Much of it centered around how "pandaren were just an April Fool's joke." Most of us, I would hazard to guess, have been won over by them in this expansion. With their incredibly deep history, love of life/beer, and gorgeous architecture, not to mention the amazing voice acting and animations that bring them to life, the pandaren have been a bigger hit for WoW than many ever imagined they could be.

In 2004, a playable goblin tinker for Warcraft III was another April Fool's joke. An overwhelmingly enthused response for playable tinkers led to Blizzard adding them to the game.

Given the origins of the pandaren and goblin tinkers, it's safe to say that any April Fool's joke that Blizzard has done over the years could one day spawn a tangible addition to the game, or perhaps a spinoff under the WoW brand. Let's look back at Blizzard's WoW-related April Fool's jokes to see which ones could be the next to become real -- and which ones already have.

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WoW Archivist: 11 moments from WoW's history that should become scenarios

The Qiraji invasion
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Next year is WoW's tenth anniversary. It's hard to believe, but it's true! If the typical timeline holds, the next expansion will release a few months prior to that anniversary. You have to believe Blizzard wants to pull out all the stops for this milestone.

What better way to celebrate ten years of WoW than by crafting scenarios to relive the best moments? It's possible that Blizzard is planning a time-based expansion centered around the Bronze Dragonflight. The Keepers of Time could send us on missions, much like the Caverns of Time dungeons of expansions past. Only instead of lore moments from the distant past, they could be moments from WoW's own history, including events driven by the community and removed content that players may not have been able to experience.

Here are 11 examples that I would love to see.

1. The Blood Plague
What: The Alliance seizes a rare opportunity
Where: Original Orgrimmar
When: Patch 1.7

As WoW Archivist previously covered, the Corrupted Blood plague began when players used "creative game mechanics" to export a boss ability into the general population. The unstoppable and highly contagious plague debuff devastated cities around the world as thousands of players and NPCs alike succumbed to it. The resulting chaos became an excellent model for how real-world diseases could spread.

This scenario would take place at the height of the plague and have different versions for Alliance and Horde. Alliance players would accompany NPCs on a strike into Orgrimmar. They would take advantage of the deadly outbreak to make an attempt on Thrall's life. Horde players would defend the city and their Warchief while trying to contain the plague.

Why Orgrimmar? Due to the time frame, Blizzard could reintroduce the original version of the city.

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